Text Boxes

Learning Objectives

  • Create and modify text boxes.

Things in a Microsoft Word document that are not text are called “objects.” The first object we will cover is a text box. Many of the controls and features of text boxes are also applicable to images, another important object in Microsoft Word.

Text boxes are containers for text that can be customized and moved around. They are useful for emphasizing or decorating text.

There are three text boxes displayed each with different formatting. Each has a few sentences written.

Some examples of text boxes.

To add a textbox, go to Insert>Text>Text Box. There are a few pre-created Built-in options to choose from. Click one of the Built-ins to add it to the document. You can also draw your own by choosing Draw Text Box, then clicking and dragging where you want the text box to be.

A blank Microsoft Word document is open. There are three green text boxes show. The first one is in the ribbon menu under the tab "Text". The second box surrounds a menu called "Text Box" which has opened up as a result of clicking the "Text" tab which surrounds the first box. The third box surrounds "Draw Text Box" which is from the dropdown menu of "Text Box".

Text Box menu

A blank Microsoft Word document is open. In the middle of the document a medium size text box has been drawn.

Drawing a text box

Once created, you can type in the text box, change the size of the text box, move the text box around, and even rotate the text box.

A zoom in of a text box in Microsoft Word is shown. There are 4 green numbers representing four different things. 1.) Is on the left side of the text box and stands for anchor point. 2.) On the top of the text box in the middle representing the rotation control. 3.) On the upper right side of the text box and it stands for wrap point. 4.) Is found in the bottom right corner of the text box and it represents the resize points.
  1. Anchor point. The anchor is the point at which the text box intertwines with the rest of the document. Click the anchor icon to select the entire text box.
  2. Rotation control. Click the circular arrow and then drag to rotate the text box.
  3. Wrap text. This controls how content in the rest of the document interacts with the text box. Text can go around the text box, in front of the text box, or skip over the text box. Text wrap is covered in more detail in the Images section.
  4. Resize points. The white dots on the border of the text box control the width and height of the text box. Click and drag any of the white dots to move that side or corner.

To move the text box, hover your cursor near the edges of the box. When you see four arrows behind the cursor, you can click and drag the box wherever you want it.

Four arrows stretching different directions at ninety degrees and is connected at the center.

Formatting Text Boxes

When you create a text box, a new tab will appear on the ribbon called Format. There are a lot of different tools in the Format tab, some of which may look familiar.

A zoom in on the ribbon menu in a Microsoft Word document is displayed. There are four different green numbers displayed. The first one stands for "Shapes", the second one stands for "Styles", the third represents "Text", and the fourth demonstrates where the "Arrange" feature is.

1. Shapes

The Shapes group (at the far left) allows you to change the shape of the text box. Click the Change Shape button in the Shapes group and then Change Shape to see a dropdown menu with many shape options. Click an option to apply it to the text box.

A Microsoft Word document is open. A green arrow is pointing at an oval which is highlighting where the shapes are. A dropdown menu has been opened up so you can change and select the shape you want to insert. There are 6 different options which consist of: "Rectangles", "Basic Shapes", "Block Arrows", "Equation Shapes", "Flowchart", "Stars and Banners", and "Callouts".
A mustard yellow star is displayed with a sentence of text on the inside in white font color.

You can also create a custom shape using the Edit Points option (just below Change Shape). The points of the text box will be outlined. Click and drag the black dots to alter the shape of the text box.

A mustard yellow star is displayed with a sentence of text on the inside in white font color. A clear line stems from the bottom of the star indicating it to get bigger. A mustard yellow star is displayed with a sentence of text on the inside in white font color.

 

2. Styles

Click the dropdown arrow to open a dropdown menu with a variety of styles for your text box. Some styles may have a gray checkered pattern. The gray checkered pattern indicates transparency. Hover over each effect to preview the results; click to apply the effect.

The ribbon menu on a Microsoft Word document is open on the format tab. Under the style section in the format tab is a dropdown menu displaying 42 different styling options.
A textbox with one sentence and a mustard yellow background.

3. Text

The Text group of the Format tab gives you additional control of the text in the text box.

Text Direction

By default, text runs horizontal in the text box. But you can choose to rotate the text so that it runs vertically by choosing Rotate all text 90° or Rotate all text 270°.

The ribbon menu on a Microsoft Word document is open on the format tab. The text direction dropdown menu has been opened allowing different options to adjust the way the text box is displayed.
A textbox with one sentence and a mustard yellow background. It has been rotated 90 degrees to the right.

Text Alignment

Text alignment of text boxes works much like text alignment in the main document. Instead of the margin or border of the page, the text aligns with the border of the text box.

The ribbon menu on a Microsoft Word document is open on the format tab. The align text dropdown menu has been opened allowing different options to align the text.

Create Link

Create Link lets you create a link between two or more text boxes so that text can flow, or continue, from one text box to the next.

The ribbon menu on a Microsoft Word document is open on the format tab. The create link option has been highlighted in gray.

Select a text box, then click Create Link. The cursor will change into a paint bucket. Click on the second text box to link them. Once linked, anything typed in the first text box will flow over to the second. (Note that the second text box must be empty before you link to it.)

There are two text boxes displayed. The first has a yellow background with two sentences of text in white. The other is a blue text box with one sentence of text in black.

Practice Question

 

 4. Arrange

The arrange option controls the order of text boxes and other elements on a page. Although a Word document is a two-dimensional file, arranging elements requires a bit of three-dimensional thinking.

The main document, where the main text is, is the bottom layer of the document. When you create a text box, the text box is on top of the rest of the document. Adding another text box puts the new text box on top of the first one.

In the background there is a large section of text in a text box. There are two text boxes displayed in the foreground. The first has a yellow background with two sentences of text in white. The other is a blue text box with one sentence of text in black.

With the Arrange option, the text box order can be rearranged.

The ribbon menu on a Microsoft Word document is open on the format tab. The arrange dropdown menu has been opened allowing different options to either bring a text box forward or backward.
  • Bring forward brings the text box forward one spot.
  • Send backward sends the text box backward one spot.

These options are also available when right-clicking on a text box:

A microsoft word document is open. In the background there is a large section of text in a text box. There are two text boxes displayed in the foreground. The first has a yellow background with two sentences of text in white. The other is a blue text box with one sentence of text in black. A right click has been performed on the blue text box opening a new dropdown menu. There is a large green circle pointing out how to move the text box either in front of or behind the text on the document.
  • Bring to front brings the text box to the very front so that it is on top of everything else.
  • Send to Back sends the text box to the very back so that everything else is on top of it.
In the background there is a large section of text in a text box. There are two text boxes displayed on the document. The first has a yellow background with two sentences of text in white and is in front of the text on the document. The other is a blue text box with one sentence of text in black, it is behind the text on the document.

The yellow text box has been brought to the front, while the blue text box has been sent to the back.

Shapes

Sometimes you may want just a shape with no text, or you may want to figure out what shape you want a text box to be before you add text.

To insert a shape, go to Insert>Shape and select a shape from the menu.

A Microsoft Word document is open. A green arrow is pointing at where the shapes are. A dropdown menu has been opened up so you can change and select the shape you want to insert. There are 7 different options which consist of: "Recently Used Shapes", "Lines", "Rectangles", "Basic Shapes", "Block Arrows", "Equation Shapes", and "Flowchart".

Once you select a shape, click and drag to draw the shape. You can then apply a text wrap, rotate the shape, or send the shape in front of or behind text.

There are four lines of text each with a bullet point. Behind the text is a blue arrow.

Click and drag

There are four lines of text each with a bullet point. To the left of the text is a blue arrow.

Square text wrap

You can change the color or add other effects to the shape from the Format tab, which appears when you click on the shape.

A Microsoft Word document is open. On the document there are four lines of text each with a bullet point. To the left of the text is a blue arrow. There is a large green arrow pointing at the "Format" tab on the ribbon menu.

If you decide you do want to add text to the shape, double-click on the shape and start typing to make the shape a text box.

Check Your Understanding

Answer the question(s) below to see how well you understand the topics covered in the previous section. This short quiz does not count toward your grade in the class, and you can retake it an unlimited number of times.

Use this quiz to check your understanding and decide whether to (1) study the previous section further or (2) move on to the next section.